The primary objective of the Planning and Conservation Committee is to influence the decisions made so that the beauty, amenity and tranquillity of the South Downs is either conserved or sustainably enhanced for public benefit.

upwaltham churchTo achieve this, our role is to consider planning applications that are made either within or close to the National Park boundary. This is done through a team of Volunteer District Officers, each covering a specific “District” within the Park. Each Officer inspects new planning applications that have been made in their District to assess the likely impact. If considered necessary a response to an application is submitted to either the National Park Planning Authority or the Local Planning Authority to whom planning decisions have been delegated. A response may set out our concerns including an objection, provide constructive comments and observations or we may present written support for an application on the basis that the Society considers that it will meet National Park purposes.

In addition to providing written responses, representatives frequently attend meetings of the National Park Authority’s Planning Committee and address the Committee on applications of particular significance.

Planning applications are assessed against a set of Policy Guidelines (see below) and also against emerging landscape policies and maps based on landscape character areas across the South Downs.

Beyond individual planning applications, we engage on any schemes likely to damage the protected landscape including the townscape of our historic market towns, local transport plans, mineral & waste plans and major infrastructure projects e.g. Rampion Wind Farm proposals. We continue to contribute positively and constructively to the development of the South Downs Management Plan and the South Downs National Park Local Plan which will flow from it.

Elsewhere we support appropriate, sensitive development which meets National Park purposes.

The Committee meets four times a year and provides a forum in which District Officers can discuss significant applications or ones giving rise to issues of common interest, and consider whether further action is required.

Our Planning Policy Guidelines

You can see some typical previous Planning Responses below.